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Essex Chronicle stories feed from registered users of the site and Northcliffe Media editorial

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    ESSEX County Council has presented Chelmsford Amateur Boxing club with a cheque for £13,300 to complete phase two of their gym refurbishment at Harway House.

    Councillor Roger Hirst, cabinet member for customer services, libraries, planning and the environment, handed over the money at the club on Sunday.

    The cash has come through the council's Community Initiatives Fund.

    "The fund is an excellent example of how Essex County Council is supporting communities to help themselves," said Cllr Hirst.

    "By increasing the opportunities for local residents, community groups and volunteers individually to shape their local facilities and undertake new ventures, we will see them make Essex an even better place to live and work than it is today."

    Cllr John Aldridge and Angela Balcombe, fund co-ordinator, were also on hand to make the presentation.

    On Sunday Chelmsford ABC secretary Ray Cooper presented Angela Lodge, representing Helen Rollason Heal Cancer Charity, with a cheque for £2,500, money raised from a recent dinner show.

    Cooper said: "We support this great charity as it has deep-rooted significance to many members of our club past and present."

    The club is now busy getting ready for this Saturday's show at the Marconi Club in Beehive Lane. Doors open at 7pm and the boxing will start at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £10 for adults, £5 for OAPs and U12s.

    Junior, senior and elite-class boxers will be competing from clubs all over the South East.

    For seat reservations or further information about the club, call 07789 225501.

    Chelmsford Boxers will also be taking part in The Bob Miller Charity Walk. Some will start from Brentwood at 9.30am but most will be joining at 4.30pm at the Horse and Groom, in Roxwell Road, going to Chelmsford Cathedral. The Mayor of Chelmsford will greet them and a small service will be held at 6pm in memory of Bob Miller.

    Chelmsford Amateur Boxing  Club handed £13k to complete gym revamp


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    Police are appealing for witnesses after a 16-year-old cyclist was injured following a collision in Chelmsford last night (Friday, February 6).

    It happened at 7.50pm in Princes Road and involved the cyclist, a boy from Chelmsford, and a black Ford Focus hatchback car. 

    The boy received leg and neck injuries which were treated in hospital and he has since been released.

    The driver of the car, a 33-year-old man from Ramsden Heath, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving offences.

    He has been released on police bail pending further inquiries until Friday, March 27.

    The road was closed until 11pm whilst the area was cleared and damage to a lamp post was repaired.

    Police would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the collision.

    They would also like to find a white coloured BMW that was travelling behind the Ford Focus at the time of the collision.

    Anybody with any information is asked to contact PC Katherine Major at Chelmsford Road Policing Unit on Essex Police 101 quoting incident 954 of February 6. 

    They can also email her on 71137@essex.pnn.police.uk

    Police appealing for witnesses after cyclist hit by car


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    A FORMER Miss England contestant and lettings manager has taken her search for love to the nation's favourite dating show.

    Sophie Whitaker appeared on ITV1's Take Me Out on Saturday last week alongside host Paddy McGuinness and 29 other single ladies, who leave their lights on if the right man comes down the lift.

    The 20-year-old of Great Notley said: "I wanted to go on the show because I wanted to find a date and connect with someone romantically, have a laugh, meet lots of new people and have a good time."

    She held a party for friends and family the night of her first appearance on the show and has already been spotted while on a night out in Chelmsford.

    "It doesn't seem real when you see yourself on the TV. I went out that night to celebrate and a couple of people recognised me and came up to ask if they could buy me a drink," said Sophie, who is a lettings manager in Braintree.

    "I got a really great response and everyone was really positive, I'm excited about the rest of the shows."

    Sophie applied online, then passed a telephone interview and was invited to play a mock version of the game so casting producers could screen test her.

    During the show, Sophie joined the panel of 30 single girls after one contestant left the group to go to the fictitious holiday destination of Fernandos, better known as Cyprus, with her chosen date.

    After her introduction, she can be seen dancing to Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe.

    Next week, she is likely to feature more prominently when, as a new face among the girls, she is interviewed by Paddy McGuinness – who has the catchphrase 'no likey, no lighty'– in more detail.

    "Paddy is a lovely guy, he's the nicest person, naturally funny and in real life is just like he is on the TV," added Sophie, who is the current Miss East Anglia.

    "I don't mind when my ideal date comes down the lift, he could be first or 50th. I'm not planning on leaving early or late."

    Sophie is no stranger to the camera. The former Notley High School student appeared on Chinese TV interviewing Boris Johnson during the handover of the Olympics from Beijing to London in 2008.

    Sophie will be tweeting updates as the show is aired from @sophiewhitaker

    Braintree's Miss East Anglia looking for love on ITV show Take Me Out


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    Chelmsford City 2, St Albans City 1

    (Vanarama South)

    CHELMSFORD CITY lived up to their billing as the division's entertainers as they saw off St Albans City for the second time this season.

    With the Carets having been tagged this week as the Vanarama South's most entertaining team as their matches have produced more goals than any other side this season, the fans at Melbourne Park were primed to see the net bulge.

    They had to wait until added time in the first half for the first goal as Joe Ward's cross beat everyone in the box to nestle in the bottom left corner.

    The second came 11 minutes into the second half as Jack Bridge's low cross was deflected into his own goal by Darren Locke. The City defender made up for his aberration by poking home a goal back from close range on 66 minutes.

    There were a few late scares for the home side, but they held on to take all three points.

    Mark Hawkes named the same starting XI as the one that overcame Whitehawk the previous weekend, with Rohdell Gordon returning from injury as the only change on the bench, Jake Gordon making way.

    St Albans had already recently seen off Whitehawk and drawn with Maidenhead United, so came in to the game in reasonable form, sitting in 13th place in the table.

    The seventh-placed home side bossed the early exchanges but could not find a way past St Albans goalkeeper Joe Welch. He palmed away Ward's early curling free-kick.

    On 15 minutes, the Clarets' Southend United loanee Bridge saw his shot blocked inside the box before Michael Cheek sliced an effort over from within the visitors' area.

    Bridge was denied by the onrushing Welch as the teenager threatened to run through on 21 minutes.

    After a quiet spell in terms of chances for the next 15 minutes, Howard Hall sent a drive from distance just off target for the away side.

    City netted at the perfect time, two minutes into added time at the end of the first half, as Ward's low cross from the right skidded all the way into the bottom left corner of the St Albans net.

    A low key start to the second half ended on 56 minutes when Bridge jinked to the by-line on the left and his low cross was knocked over his own line by Locke.

    Lee Sawyer, who signed a new deal this week with the Clarets, to extend his stay at Melbourne Park until at least the end of next season, sent an effort well over after bursting into the away side's box on the hour mark.

    Locke made up for his own goal with one at the other end after a scramble in the box from a set piece culminated in him stabbing the ball home from a yard out on 66 minutes.

    Lee Chappell's giant throw-ins were causing Chelmsford some problems at the back and one, soon after their goal, required Michael Toner to make a last ditch clearance off his own goal line, with the Saints players claiming it had gone over.

    In an attempt to strengthen his side, Hawkes replaced Jaanai Gordon with Yado Mambo, switching to three central defenders with two wing-backs.

    The Clarets fans were screaming for a penalty after Cheek was challenged in the box after a great take and run by the Chelmsford hitman.

    Mambo headed over from a corner, before Mark Hughes nodded the ball in the net from another Toner corner on 82 minutes, but the referee ruled it out, seemingly for a push in the box.

    The Clarets made a couple of late substitutions, with Rohdell Gordon replacing Sawyer, and then Christian Smith, making his 50th appearance for the club, coming on for Bridge.

    The hosts were fortunate to remain ahead moments late on as twice, scrambles just two yards from the Chelmsford goal line failed to result in a St Albans player getting the touch needed to force the ball home.

    CHELMSFORD CITY: Lovelock, Girdlestone, Toner, Hughes, Haines, HIckford, Sawyer (R Gordon 83), Ward, Jaanai Gordon (Mambo 70), Cheek, Bridge (Smith 88). Subs not used: Redwood, Gregory. Att: 682.

    Southend United starlet instrumental as Chelmsford do the double over St Albans


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    CLARETS boss Mark Hawkes was happy to see his side show another facet to their game as they battled to three points with a 2-1 victory against St Albans City.

    A strike from Joe Ward and an own goal from Saints' Darren Locke put Chelmsford in a commanding position, but Locke hit one back for the visitors before setting up a frantic finale with long throws aplenty from St Albans skipper Lee Chappell into the box causing many a scramble, but the hosts held on.

    "We scored the goal late on in the first half and went in with a deserved lead. We managed the game quite well. They weren't a threat. The only threat they had was from long throws and free-kicks and we dealt with that well in the first half," said Hawkes.

    "We didn't see the last half hour coming when we were 2-0 up. They went as direct as direct can be with everything directed into our box. We had to change the shape a bit, put another centre-half on and we dealt with it."

    He added: "It's pleasing to me because we showed another part of our game. You hope you have it, but you can't really know until you get tested and we found out a lot about our lads today. We had to defend direct play into our box and win headers and second balls.

    "The keeper has got amongst it and I feel there were four or five times when it went into our box and there was a foul on the keeper. We didn't get one all day. We scored from a corner at the other end and from the slightest of pushes it was disallowed.

    "It was a physical game and our lads should be proud because they stood up to that."

    The City boss also paid tribute to recent signings, goalkeeper Tom Lovelock, who joined from Sutton United, and Jack Bridge, on loan from Southend United, the latter crossing for Locke to put the winner into his own net.

    "They've had decent games. Two good games at home since joining, with a lot of pressure from the long throws today. The keeper's done well. He's been pinned on his line a couple of times but got nothing. He also made one very good save late on when it's dropped loose. He's a good goalkeeper," said Hawkes.

    "Jack's workrate isn't the whole story, he's good on the ball, he's got good energy and he gets up and down and puts in a proper shift.

    "Those two players can be very happy with their two games so far, but we've now got three games on the road and we've got to be very organised and hopefully we won't give too many goals away and see if we can pick up some points."

    Bridge enjoyed the battle, but admitted it was a tough end to the game.

    "It was good to get the three points which is what we were after in the beginning," he said.

    "It was a bit tight in the end with the long balls coming into the box and all that, but we did well and we showed character to hold on to the three points."

    On his cross which was turned home by the Saints defender, he added: "Unfortunately for the lad, he's put it in his own net, but from my perspective, I've beaten the player and just put it into the area and then anything can happen from there. It's an assist for me and I'll take anything!"

    Midfielder Lee Sawyer, who signed a new deal with the Clarets this week until the end of the 2015/16 season, was delighted the side ground out the result in difficult circumstances.

    "In the first half we got the lead and that was important because they changed their tactics at half-time. I think that was pivotal for the match because we then couldn't play the way we had, for the second half because of their changes," he said.

    "Long throws from the halfway line made it difficult for us, but we got the result and it was a great result.

    "We haven't really had to hold on like that for the whole season, with people throwing the ball into the box like that. So that's a first for us, but we ended up dealing with it, which is good."

    On one missed chance for him in the second half, where he burst into the box only to slice his effort over the crossbar, he joked: "I got a little bit excited didn't I? I think I suddenly saw the headlines!"

    His new team-mate Bridge, 19, is now looking forward to Tuesday night's clash at Concord Rangers.

    "I'm really looking forward to the derby," he admitted. "I think it will be a good game. I played down there a few times, including in pre-season with Southend. It'll be a great game and I'm looking forward to it."

    For more from Hawkes, Bridge and Sawyer, see this week's Essex Chronicle.

    Hawkes happy as Chelmsford City show another side to their game against St Albans


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    MOVING the goalposts is to blame for a perceived drop in the performance of Essex schools in the GCSE tables, it has been claimed.

    Falls of up to 15 per cent in the number of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths, have been recorded across the county.

    But they are due to the Government omitting some qualifications, such as the IGCSEs, this year, and allowing certain vocational qualifications to count as one GCSE, whereas in the past they would be worth two or more, say heads.

    At The Sandon School, the percentage of students achieving the benchmark has risen from 62 to 66 per cent.

    But head teacher Jo Wincott admits some schools have suffered as a result of changes brought in this year.

    She said: "We are pleased with our continued improvement in exam results.

    "Despite a number of qualifications having been removed from the qualifying list, we have maintained our high standards and have continued to show improvement in key areas.

    "The Government's changes have, in particular, penalised schools who have used methods such as multiple and repeated entry in English and maths – something that most of the schools in mid-Essex have been cautious with.

    "Unfortunately for some schools the removal of certain qualifications from the list of approved examinations at relatively short notice has resulted in some pupils' results not counting towards the whole school's results.

    "Most of the schools in the area use such qualifications sparingly to provide an appropriate route for a small group of students who, in future, are likely to be disadvantaged if they are unable to access the qualifications – traditional GCSEs are not appropriate for all learners in all schools."

    Despite the changes some schools have seen big improvements in the percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths.

    In Chelmsford, Chelmer Valley and Great Baddow High, who both had a score of 50 per cent last year, have increased to 59 and 58 per cent respectively this year. Hylands is up from 39 to 40 per cent.

    Maltings Academy in Witham has seen its scores rise from 56 per cent to 63 per cent this year.

    Other schools have seen a significant drop. In the case of Notley High School in Braintree there has been a fall of 15 per cent, with 58 per cent of students achieving the benchmark last year, compared to just 43 per cent this year. Similarly results at Moulsham High in Chelmsford have fallen by 12 per cent from 66 per cent to 54 per cent.

    New Rickstones Academy in Witham has seen its percentage fall from 49 to 40; and Honywood in Coggeshall has dropped from 69 to 54 per cent this year.

    In Chelmsford there has been a 10 per cent drop from 64 to 54 per cent at The Boswells School in Springfield and a fall of nine per cent from 70 to 61 at St John Payne School.

    Another factor affecting GCSE results were changes to English half way through the course.

    According to David Barrs, head teacher of the Anglo European School, where 68 per cent of entrants scored five GCSEs at A* to C, including maths and English, in 2014, compared to 80 per cent in 2013, "grade boundaries for English were arbitrarily changed". This meant students had to gain more marks to obtain a higher grade.

    He added: "We also had the situation whereby the speaking and listening element of English, which our students had already sat and traditionally do well at, was removed from the final assessment again by an arbitrary edict from the Secretary of State."

    His views are backed by Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders union NAHT, who said: "Secondary schools continue to improve and continue to perform: they have been tripped up by last minute changes to eligibility and methods of calculation. Many of these changes disproportionately affected schools working with the most disadvantaged students."

    Essex heads accuse Government of moving school performance goalposts


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    REIGNING superbike champion Ed Rendell is confident that he will be able to make a smooth transition to the next level in his quest for another British Championship.

    The Chelmsford-born rider won the 125cc 2014 British Motostar Championship after finishing on the podium in all 12 races with Banks Racing, and this year has stuck with the same team but moved up to the 250cc bike.

    After breezing the last year's Championship, Rendell admits that his eyes are focused on another British title.

    "The 125s aren't as quick as the 250 four-strokes that I've moved on to, even through last year I was beating some of the better riders on the 250s," said Rendell.

    "Now I'm jumping up to it. It's making my life easier in being able to beat them because I'm going to be on the same level bike they were on. We know we can run the pace out there on the 125s, so moving up to the 250s should make it a bit easier for me.

    "I've got my eyes on another British Championship. It's going to be a bit harder because you are stepping up to all the fast guys that are on the 250 four-strokes now.

    "There's more competition and it's going to be a lot tighter but we've got the machinery to win the championship.

    "As long as I pull my weight by getting good qualifying and race results and put in the same consistency as I did last year then we look good to be set for another Championship."

    The 23-year-old has spoken about his desire to race abroad in his fight to achieve his goals but with money not quite in place he is hoping a title win this year will bring it even closer.

    "It was the right thing to do, not necessarily what I wanted to do because obviously I wanted to go abroad, but if you haven't got the money for it there's no point mulling over it," he said

    "It's the right step to head towards another British Championship and if we can get another win under our belt that should set us up better to move on to what we need to do next year.

    "For where we were financially it was the best move to go to because it's in the same team that I've been racing with for a couple of years now so I know the guys there and they know me.

    "Essentially, we want to get abroad and start racing out there because that's where you get picked up for entering the bigger races like the World Series.

    Biker Ed Rendell  eyes another British title after stepping up a level


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    Prices of petrol are continuing to plummet across Essex, so we thought we'd let you know where to fill up on the cheapest fuel.

    According to www.petrolprices.com, the average price of petrol is currently 107.1p and the lowest price we've found is 103.9p.

    Here is a list of the top 10:

    Asda Colchester - 103.7p (as of February 5)

    Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5JY


    Sainsbury's Springfield – 103.9p (as of February 5)

    White Hart Lane, Chelmsford, CM2 5PA


    Maylands Garage – 103.9p (as of January 30)

    Steeple Road, Mayland, Chelmsford, CM3 6BB


    Tesco Colchester Extra - 104.9p (as of February 5)

    Highwoods Square, Colchester, CO4 9ED


    West End Service Station – 104.9p (as of February 4)

    120 Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, CM1 2QL


    Oaklands Service Station – 104.9p (as of February 5)

    Princes Road, Chelmsford, CM2 9DF


    Tesco Chelmsford – 104.9p (as of February 5)

    Princes Road, Chelmsford, CM2 9XW


    Prestons Garage – 104.9p (as of February 2)

    2-4 Lordship Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, CM1 3EH


    Eastwood Service Station - 104.9p (as of February 5)

    Ipswich Road, Colchester, CO4 0EX


    Mrh Elmstead Spar - 104.9p (as of February 5)

    Colchester Road, Elmstead Market, Colchester, CO7 7EE


    If you are know of any petrol stations offering cheaper prices, please tell us by tweeting @EssexChronicle or comment on our facebookpage.

     

    Petrol prices: Top 10 cheapest petrol stations around Essex


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    A COMMUNITY football club in Great Baddow has restyled its image after buying new kits for each of its 14 teams.

    Baddow Spartak FC was overwhelmed with support from club sponsors, and has now bought new strips for each of its 200 players.

    Established in 1979, the club boasts teams from the under seven age group right through to the senior men's sides.

    The club wishes to thank the following sponsors: Paul Moorish of Allied Vehicles Rentals, Tony Hague of Elonex, Graham Hughes of Bond Residential, and Simon Berry of SP Berry Home Improvements.

    Acknowledgments also go to: Alan Button of Hideworks, Steve Middleton of NSM Special Products, Joff Parks of Power Testing Ltd and Rob Donlon of Jade Home Improvements.

    Other sponsors include: Health Nudge, Daniel James, Gratte Brothers, The Lion Inn Boreham, Bonne and Sons, Vita Bella restaurant in East Hanningfield, Essex Wheels and Anton.

    Baddow Spartak gives new kits to 200 players thanks to Chelmsford sponsors


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    THE decision to exclude IGCSEs from this year's tables has angered the head of one of Chelmsford's leading schools.

    Tom Carter, head of King Edward VI Grammar School, has blasted the Government for leaving out the results of the international GCSE chosen by many selective and private schools as it is thought to be more rigorous, and better preparation for A-levels.

    The exams were included in last year's tables, but will be excluded this year and next before being re-introduced in 2016.

    Last year, KEGS pupils took IGCSES in biology, physics and chemistry.

    The tables show that KEGS' total average GCSE points without sciences was 559, when it should be 714, said Mr Carter.

    He explained: "Our governors and staff have found the Department for Education's decision hard to understand. We consider these qualifications to be the best for our students; the results are excellent and the preparation for A-levels very good."

    He added: "Summer 2014 was the best ever year for our students at GCSE, with over half of grades at A*, and an astonishing total average points score of 714."

    Nicole Chapman, head of Chelmsford County High, said the school has also been slightly affected by the IGCSE being omitted, but in only one subject, chemistry.

    She said: "We measure our outcomes consistently in relation to students achieving A* to A grades for GCSEs; A* to B at A-level and grades seven, six and five at international baccalaureate. Those results still place CCHS within the top five state girls' schools in the UK."

    International GCSE's exclusion from school performance tables is slammed by Essex teachers


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    MALDON District Council has confirmed an increase to its council tax charges for the third year in a row.

    The authority has upped the charges in 2015/2016 by 1.5 per cent, up to £178.88 for a Band D property, but short of the two per cent rate that would have required a referendum.

    The increase was confirmed by the Finance and Corporate Services Committee on Tuesday last week and rubber-stamped at the full council meeting on Thursday.

    Fiona Marshall, chief executive of Maldon District Council, said: "The council has seen its Government grant reduced again this year by 15.5 per cent, which continues to make it challenging to balance the budget and provide effective local services to people in the district.

    "The council's medium term financial strategy shows that there is an estimated budget gap for 2016/17 of over £500,000, despite the council making significant savings across several areas of its budget including reducing senior management costs."

    Last year the council chose to increase charges by 1.85 per cent, the equivalent of £3.20 extra a year for a Band D property.

    And in April 2013, it upped council tax by 1.99 per cent.

    Tax was frozen the year previous.

    A council tax increase of 1.5 per cent equates to an additional charge of £2.64 per annum for a band D property.

    The parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government, Kris Hopkins MP, said: "Any council proposing an increase of two per cent or more will need to allow local people the opportunity to improve or veto the increase in a referendum."

    The council would have received financial assistance from the Government if they would have increased by less than one per cent.

    Ms Marshall added: "The recommendation of the Finance and Corporate Services Committee to council will generate £61,000 per annum, which will help to balance the budget for 2015/16 and will go some way to protecting future services."

    Council tax is collected by the council and then distributed accordingly to Essex County Council, Maldon District Council, Essex Police, parish councils and Essex Fire Service. It will come into force from April this year.

    Maldon District Council increase council tax for third year running


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    Detectives investigating the rape of a young woman in Maldon have today made a renewed appeal for witnesses.

    A woman aged in her 20s from the area was walking away from the Fullbridge Tesco store near the underpass at Mill Lane when she was grabbed by two men, dragged in to bushes and raped.

    The attack happened between 5.45pm and 6.15pm on Saturday, January 24.

    The first suspect who carried out the assault and subject of the efit image released last week, was of Asian appearance, 25-30-years-old, 5ft 10in to 6 ft, with stubble on his face. 

    He wore a Superdry jacket which had a green logo.

    The second man was slightly taller than the first, and wore a black coat and hooded top with the hood up.

    Two men who had been originally arrested in connection with the inquiry were released without charge. A third man, arrested on Thursday February 5, aged 24 and from Maldon, has also been released without charge in connection with this incident.

    DCI Simon Werrett, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "We are still looking to speak to a number of people who were in the area at the time who may have seen something. 

    "We would particularly like to speak to two white men in their late teens who were sat down by a hut in the park and two young women who were walking together towards the bridge. 

    "One woman is described as having red/brown hair and the other woman wore a brown jacket. 

    "We would also like to speak to a woman who was walking a small black and white terrier or Jack Russell type dog. 

    "She is described as white, between 30 and 40-years-old, slim and tall and was wearing a long black and white coat."

    Anyone with information can phone Major Investigation Team Detectives on 01206 576845, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or email scdappeals@essex.pnn.police.uk

    Renewed police appeal for Maldon rape witnesses


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    FANCY eyewear was the order of a spec-tacular day at one Chelmsford school.

    All 240 pupils, plus the staff, at Baddow Hall Junior School, donned decorated glasses to raise awareness of a project to help poor-sighted people in developing countries.

    Some pupils made their own glasses from plastic, cardboard or foam, while others decorated frames with stickers, tinsel and even balloons.

    Anita Kidd, community cohesion co-ordinator, who organised the day, said: "We had an amazing response to the day with every child turning up with a pair of zany specs. It was a real fun occasion, and a great way to highlight a good cause."

    Parents donated more than 150 pairs of unwanted prescription glasses which will be cleaned and sent to Africa as part of a project run by the Rotary International.

    The Great Baddow school has its own branch of the Rotary – the Rotakids – who welcomed Peter King, president of Rotary International for Great Britain and Ireland, to the school for the day.

    The school's Rotakids gave a presentation to Mr King, and members of the Chelmer Bridge Rotary Club, of the various projects they have undertaken over the past 18 months to raise money and awareness of global Rotary Projects, like the one in Africa.

    Finley Nathan, ten, president of the Baddow Hall Rotakids, said: "We told Mr King how we work together to plan events such as the spec-tacular day and a purple day we held last year to raise money for polio vaccinations in developing countries.

    "We were pleased to have someone so important come to our school and he told how we are setting a great example to other Rotakid groups in the country."

    Baddow Hall Junior School wear wacky specs and donate unwanted glasses for poor-sighted people in Africa


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    A NURSING home has unveiled its £850,000 revamp, promising an era of "person first" care.

    Staff and residents at Admirals Reach Residential and Nursing Home, in Chelmsford, run by Bupa, celebrated a launch event with live music and a magician last week.

    Lal Mangalam, who became manager in September, said: "We have a great team here and everyone's number one priority is providing the best care for residents in the most stimulating and homely environment.

    "The refurbishment really helps us to do that.

    "I know that unless you provide a good quality of life for residents, you're not providing the best quality of care.

    "My philosophy is always person first.

    "It's also important to remember we're often caring for the families who care for our resident, as well as the individual themselves."

    The revamp, which contractors worked on from August to December, created new "calming colour schemes" and a new "dementia-friendly environment".

    Mayor Bob Villa joined staff and residents at last week's event.

    Mr Mangalam added: "My view is that you tailor the care we provide to fit the individual – not the other way around."

    Bupa Admirals Reach nursing home in Chelmsford unveils £850,000 revamp


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    A "DOG translator" was in court this week accused of selling a sick puppy from an illegal pet shop and breeding centre at her home.

    Julie Hutchings, 51, of Beeches Road, Chelmsford, is on trial at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on charges of running a non-licensed breeding establishment and non-licensed pet shop in 2013.

    Chelmsford City Council, which is prosecuting, says she kept at least five litters of puppies in one year with intent to sell, was dishing out business cards and was advertising the dogs on websites.

    But Hutchings claims she was simply quarantining dogs from Moulsham Street shop Aquapets and was advertising dogs on their behalf.

    On Monday, the council's prosecuting lawyer, Andrew Nicklin, said: "On that premises there is a business of breeding dogs for sale."

    Mr Nicklin said the city council first stumbled across Hutchings when city public health protection officer Siobhan Sheridan spotted her unloading a crate of puppies at a microchipping event on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at Melbourne Park.

    When asked if she was a breeder, Hutchings allegedly said no and "quickly packed away the dogs in the car", leaving after passing a man a business card.

    Two weeks later, Hutchings again came to the attention of the city council when a woman claimed she sold her a £395 pedigree Yorkshire terrier with an ear mites infection and worms.

    Alison Munday claims she spotted the dogs on a website advert and collected the pet from Hutchings' home on May 8, where the defendant allegedly admitted to having ten dogs at home at the time.

    Three days later, Ms Munday e-mailed Hutchings complaining she was already having to pay a veterinary bill.

    A second complaint from disgruntled customer Rosemary Wilson claimed she bought a Yorkshire terrier/bichon frise hybrid from Hutchings' home on Christmas Eve, where Hutchings explained she was a dog translator and "knows what they're thinking through their behaviour".

    While under cross-examination, Hutchings told the court these were her only two dog sales within a 24-month period, and that the money paid off veterinary bills.

    She also claimed that the majority of dogs at her home were owned by Moulsham Street shop Aquapets, and she was simply quarantining them and advertising dogs on its behalf.

    Hutchings said: "They were advertised to generate interest and if anyone contacted me they were given the shop's details."

    The trial was adjourned on Monday and is expected to conclude on Tuesday, February 17, when Aquapets owner Michele Pawsey also gives evidence.

    The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 states it is illegal to keep a business of breeding dogs with a view to being sold without a licence.

    Speaking to the Chronicle outside court, Hutchings said: "This case is a complete waste of public money and because of it I have considered stopping my dog rescuing."

    Chelmsford woman denies running illegal pet shop from home


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    A PRISON watchdog panel wants people willing to step inside the "eye-opening" world of life behind bars to ensure the welfare of inmates.

    Nick Adams, chairman of HMP and YOI Chelmsford's Independent Monitoring Board, is recruiting members of the community to help him hold the penal system to account and assess the welfare of prisoners.

    The 67-year-old, who has headed the board since 2012, said: "We are looking to recruit four or five new members to diversify the board. We want more people from ethnic minorities and young people to apply.

    "Our job is to make sure prisoners are dealt with fairly and are treated within the rules. It is absolutely rewarding and we see things most people ordinarily wouldn't – unless you are a prisoner, of course."

    Applicants will be given a tour of the prison after the interview stage and if a candidate is successful, they will then be appointed by the Minister of Justice.

    Mr Adams, from Danbury, added the tour of Chelmsford prison often forces people to reconsider their desire to work inside, as he remembers his own debut visit was a daunting experience.

    He said: "It was very eye-opening and a little intimidating; I had no idea what to expect, but you soon learn not to put yourself into difficult situations.

    "You are speaking with people you generally wouldn't in the real world. However, it's a chance to peel back the cover of something which is right in the middle of Chelmsford, and we get unrestricted access."

    Members of the board inspect on a weekly basis, and they meet as a group once a month. The IMB also writes internal reports so volunteers are aware of what is happening around the clock.

    Mr Adams added: "There are actually quite a lot of vulnerable adults in Chelmsford prison who would be better served in a psychiatric ward or something of that ilk.

    "The worst part of the job is getting a call in the middle of the night to hear that a prisoner has self-harmed or has even died. It's fairly unusual but it does happen.

    "However, the most rewarding aspect of the job is being able to help a prisoner who otherwise wouldn't have received the proper support he needs."

    For more information, visit www.justice.gov.uk/about/imb

    Application forms can be downloaded from www.justice.gov.uk/jobs/independent-monitoring-board and, once completed, should be emailed to IMBrecruitment@justice.gsi.gov.uk

    Chelmsford prison watchdog wants volunteers to look after inmates


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    A COUNCILLOR was left ruing the county's icy roads after a gritter careered into her parked Mercedes in the night, ruining her garage too.

    Cllr Jude Deakin was awoken by a "loud crunch" at 3.45am on Friday outside her Sunset Drive home in Chelmsford.

    The mother-of-two, who represents the Marconi ward on Chelmsford City Council, said: "I looked out of the window after I heard this crunching noise and saw that my car was no longer pointing towards the house on my drive, but had somehow spun 45 degrees.

    "I remember thinking to myself that I didn't park the car like that when I got home the day before, so I looked further down the street and saw that a gritter had stopped at the side of the road."

    The Lib Dem councillor, who is also an Essex County Councillor for the Chelmsford West division, hurriedly threw on some clothes and went into the street to investigate.

    She soon noticed the driver of the road gritter, Andy Jones, was visibly shaken up and invited him into her house for a cup of tea as they exchanged insurance details.

    She said: "When I spoke with the driver of the road gritter he said that he was coming round the bend to the left of my house and slid uncontrollably on some black ice.

    "He didn't make the bend, mounted the kerb and crashed into my car. The Mercedes is now a write-off as it was rammed into the corner of my garage.

    "The garage wall will also need to be replaced."

    The front passenger wing of the silver 2009 A-Class was buried into the garage on impact and its rear lights were smashed after bearing the brunt of the impact.

    She added: "The car looks like a concertina where the parts have folded over.

    "The boot is unaligned with everything and I haven't even bothered looking under the bonnet.

    "The driver had no control, but I don't blame him. I'm just glad that he wasn't hurt because I'd much rather my car and garage were damaged.

    "After everything that happened I couldn't get back to sleep so I stayed up and watched the cricket. My phone didn't stop ringing throughout the day with people wishing me well."

    The driver had set off that morning from the Springfield depot, and as he is also an employee of Essex County Council, he was subject to alcohol and drug testing, but passed both checks.

    Mrs Deakin has since been loaned a BMW One Series for the interim.

    She said: "I still prefer my Mercedes as I have to pull the seat right up to the steering wheel because of my little legs."

    The councillor also told The Chronicle she will be making a complaint to county highways boss, Cllr Rodney Bass.

    She claims if the street lights had been turned on, they could have taken more useful pictures in the aftermath.

    She said: "My only complaints were that the gritters should have been sent out earlier before the roads got really bad – and the street lights should have been switched on."

    Essex County Councillor road gritter wrecks car belonging to Chelmsford councillor Jude Deakin


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    The candidates for the Essex County Council by-election in Bocking on Thursday, March 5 have been announced.

    Five candidates will contest the seat which became vacant following the death of Councillor Gordon Helm (UKIP) in December.

    Cllr Helm died on Christmas Eve having suffered a stroke.

    He was elected to County Hall in May 2013 and had been selected by UKIP to stand for the Braintree constituency in August.

    The candidates who will now be looking to fill the void in the by-election are listed below.

    Stephen Canning – The Conservative Party Candidate

    Michael Leonard Ford – UK Independence Party

    John Edwin Malam – Green Party Candidate

    Peter Sale – Independent

    Lynn Rosemary Watson – The Labour Party Candidate

    Polling stations for the election will be open between 7am and 10pm on Thursday, March 5.

    The last day for people to be included on the electoral register and able to vote in the by-elections is Tuesday, February 17.

    Any member of the public wanting more information should contact Braintree Council on 01376 552525. 

    Candidates for Bocking By-election announced


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    BRAINTREE Rugby Club's fortunes hit an all-time low on Saturday as their scratch team suffered their 16th straight defeat of the season as they were comprehensively beaten 34-0 at home by Essex rivals South Woodham Ferrers.

    And to make matters even worse for the black and ambers Old Cooperians recorded a shock 29-14 win over Enfield Ignatian to leap-frog Tree and leave them rooted to the bottom of London Two North East.

    With a number of first team regulars still in Cardiff celebrating England's win over Wales on Friday night, joint-coach Brian Joslin was forced to make 11 changes to the previous week's starting line-up.

    The new recruits battled manfully and gave their all but they were no match for a well drilled SWF side, which became the latest team in the division to complete the double over Tree.

    To their credit the home side's mix and match forwards line-up held their own at the set piece and managed to secure enough possession to allow the backs to mount a series of attacks.

    But a lack of control in the final 10 metres meant they were unable to find the clinical finishing necessary to convert their forays upfield into points.

    Joslin said: "It's a very testing time for everyone concerned with the first team at the moment and it's becoming increasingly difficult to motivate our players to train.

    "Nobody likes getting beaten week in, week out but this is where the boys have to show their mettle and battle their way to that elusive first win of the season.

    "Our forwards performed so much better than they did in the previous game between the two sides but whereas Ferrers were clinical in their finishing the blood went to our heads when we had chances to score.

    "Our front row of James Perry, Dave Baker and James Fairchild put in a great shift and our centres George Crane and Alex Randall tackled tenaciously all game.

    "Our half-backs Darren Page and Dan Olley also had good games and everyone who pulled on their shirt gave their all. I couldn't have asked for more by way of effort and determination."

    Tree are without a game this weekend but return to league action when they travel to Norfolk on February 21 for what promises to be a huge challenge away to Diss, who went top with their last gasp 20-17 win away to Holt on Saturday.

    Braintree RFC slump to defeat against South Woodham Ferrers


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    Soul singer-songwriter Sam Smith, who went to primary school in Saffron Walden, has won four awards at the Grammys.

    The 22-year-old picked up the gongs for best new artist, best pop vocal album for In the Lonely Hour and for song of the year - Stay With Me.

    Smith was rewarded for being the only solo artist to sell more than a million albums in both the UK and US in 2014.

    Pharrell Williams, Beyonce and Rosanne Cash, daughter of country legend Johnny, won three awards each.

    Madonna, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney were among those performing at the ceremony in Los Angeles.

    But the night belonged to Smith. Accepting the trophy for record of the year, he said: "I want to thank the man who this record is about, who I fell in love with last year.

    "Thank you so much for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys."

    Smith also performed Stay With Me on stage with Mary J Blige.

    Earlier, he said: "Before I made this record, I was doing everything to try to get my music heard... I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was when I started to be myself that the music flowed."

    Smith had been nominated for five Grammys but lost out on the best album award to Beck, who was honoured for his 12th studio LP,MorningPhase.

    Later this month, Smith, who last year won four MOBO Awards, could walk off with another five gongs at the 2015 Brit Awards at London's O2 Arean on February 25.

    As a young boy, Sam lived in Great Chishill, a village between Royston and Saffron Walden. He went to St Thomas More Catholic Primary School in Walden. He was also a member of the junior section of the town's amateur operatic society.

    As a teenager at St Mary's in Stortford, he was a member of Bishop's Stortford Musical Theatre Company and world-acclaimed Stortford-based youth choir Cantate.

    Former Essex schoolboy Sam Smith wins four Grammy awards


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